Benjamin Kwofie, 26, loves fabrics, fashion and entrepreneurship. He came to Canada from Ghana at age 12 to live with his father. At age 13 he began making and selling his own T-shirts. He is a recent winner of the Success in Self-Employment Award from Social and Enterprise Development Innovations (SEDI). The award celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit in individuals faced with adversity.
Kwofie survived a troubled lifestyle as a teenager and began turning his life around six years ago after the death of his mother, who lost a battle with cancer. She had remained in her native Ghana. He worked in an auto parts factory on the overnight shift and spent many daytime hours exploring fashion design at Remix, a program for at-risk youth.
In 2008 he successfully applied for a $10,000.00 grant from ArtReach Toronto, an organization that provides funding for creative arts projects for young people living in vulnerable neighborhoods. He created his Royalz Wear label and soon local hip-hop artists were wearing his distinctive jeans, sweaters and coats. He opened a small boutique on Queen St. W., and in 2009 his Royalz Wear became the first Canadian label to be included in Latino Fashion week in Chicago. In February 2010 he was one of 18 accepted into the Federal Youth Employment Services BizStart program, an intensive 11-month course that helps young people turn their entrepreneurial dreams into a viable business.
Benjamin Kwofie’s goal for 2011 is to expand his fashion line into mainstream department stores.